Reverse mortgage loans: a quantitative analysis
Reverse mortgage loans (RMLs) allow older homeowners to borrow against housing wealth without moving. In spite of growth in this market, only 2.1% of eligible homeowners had RMLs in 2011. In this paper, we analyze reverse mortgages in a life-cycle model of retirement, calibrated to age-asset profiles. The ex-ante welfare gain from RMLs is sizable at $1,000 per household; ex-post, low-income, low-wealth and poor-health households use them. Bequest motives, nursing-home moving risk, house price risk, and interest and insurance costs all contribute to the low take-up rate. The model predicts market potential for RMLs to be 5.5% of households.
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